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Canadian company turns shipping containers into portable operating rooms – CTV News



A Canadian company is helping to limit the coronavirus pandemic’s strain on the healthcare system by turning old shipping containers into portable operating rooms and intensive care units.

Hamilton, Ont.-based Fero International customizes these containers into a variety of uses, depending on what their client wants. But as COVID-19 cases surge, the company has been using their innovations to help with front-line needs.

Inside the unit, the company has built a fully functioning hospital room that can be used for operations or act as an ICU, which the company believes will increase the number of patients that can be treated and can help avoid the cancellation of other hospital procedures.

“Our hope is that the deployment of these will allow hospitals to keep going so we don’t have to shut down,” Fero International CEO Sabrina Fiorellino told CTV News.

While COVD-19 hospitalizations are down compared to the initial wave back in the spring, the fear remains that this second wave could still be just as deadly.

According to’s tracker of COVID-19 cases in Canada, there were 975 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths on Monday, though several provinces did not report due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Fero has also teamed up with the University Health Network in Toronto to make sure the units work up to doctors’ standards.

“This allows us to respond very quickly to a mass casualty event or a natural disaster event,” said Dr. Laura Hawryluck, a critical care medicine professor at the UHN.

The air pressure inside can be controlled to help protect the patient, and the air coming out of the units are filtered to prevent infecting people outside.

Fiorellino began the company as a way of giving back to the healthcare community after her mother’s life was saved with a double-lung transplant. Her brother and sister-in-law are also front-line workers.

Fiorellino said the units are transported to their destination by train or transport truck. Her vision is having units combined to create as many as 100 additional beds for hospitals in need of the extra capacity.

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Landmark settlement is a message to Canadian companies extracting resources overseas: Amnesty International –



A human rights lawsuit alleging slavery and torture has been settled outside of court with a Canadian mining company for an undisclosed but “significant” amount, according to Amnesty International.

In February 2020 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the case could be heard in B.C. despite the fact it involved events in Africa.

The terms of the settlement remain confidential but human rights advocates say the outcome of this legal proceeding will resonate.

Tara Scurr is the business and human rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada.

She says this case — brought forward by three refugees from Eritrea — involved allegations of torture, slavery and other human rights abuses.

Precedent-setting case

The fact that the Canadian mining company opted to settle the dispute will send a message.

“It’s a precedent-setting case. It’s the first time that level of human rights abuse has been brought before a Canadian court for the activities of a Canadian extractives company overseas,” said Scurr.

She said this serves as an example that such cases can be heard in Canada and result in significant settlements with corporations.

Nevsun Resources’ gold and copper mine in the Bisha mining district in northern Eritrea, adjacent to Sudan. (CBC)

The case was first filed in 2014 by former mine workers Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle.

The trio of Eritrean refugees alleged that Nevsun was responsible for benefiting from human rights abuses including slavery, forced labour, torture and crimes against humanity during construction of its copper and gold mine in Eritrea.

Amnesty International said in a news release that the terms of the settlement between the company and the three refugees are confidential.

The secretary general of Amnesty International Canada lauded the courage of the mine workers who came forward with their “horrific” experiences in a “groundbreaking” lawsuit.

“These individuals helped pave the way for corporate accountability overseas. Canadian companies must take responsibility for alleged human rights abuses associated with their operations, not just on Canadian soil, but anywhere in the world,” said Ketty Nivyabandi.

SCOC allowed it to proceed in B.C.

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed Nevsun’s appeal of the case and allowed it to proceed in B.C., affirming that international law applied to both states and corporations and making it clear that companies can be tried in Canada over serious allegations in other countries.

During the proceedings Nevsun denied that the company or any subsidiaries enlisted the Eritrean military to build the mine or supply labour, and said the refugees behind the court action were not mistreated.

B.C. courts dismissed Nevsun’s attempts to make Eritrea the forum for the lawsuit. 

In its March decision, the Supreme Court rejected the company’s argument that Canadian courts are precluded from assessing the sovereign acts of a foreign government, including Eritrea’s national military service program.

The court also noted that customary international law — the common law of the international legal system — embraces fundamental norms, including prohibitions against slavery, forced labour and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Scurr said the trio who first brought the case continue to suffer trauma because of their experiences.

She said workers described being bound and beaten, tied up in the hot sun and left for hours, while earning about $30 US per month. There was no sick leave and they faced retribution that affected their families if they took any leave.

She said the settlement is a relief for the families, despite the fact details about who was involved won’t be publicized.

“It saves them giving testimony, giving evidence, having every single issue scrutinized and debated while they are still recovering from the terrific abuses they suffered. In fact, fantastic for them that the case has been settled. I know that they are very happy.”

CBC reached out to former Nevsun executives who declined comment.

Requests to Zijin Mining Group Company, a Chinese company that acquired Nevsun in 2018 for $1.9 billion, have gone unanswered. 

In previous statements, Nevsun denied all allegations and said it planned to “vigorously defend itself in court.”

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Canada adds more than 2500 new coronavirus cases Friday – Global News



Twenty-six more coronavirus patients have died in Canada, and 2,582 new cases of the virus have been recorded.

The increases announced Friday bring the cumulative national case total to 211,515, though more than 177,000 people have recovered, according to provincial statistics. The number of COVID-19-positive people in Canada who have died stands at 9,888.

Read more:
Trudeau announces $214M for Canadian coronavirus vaccine research

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said the number of people experiencing severe cases of the virus is on the rise. An average of 1,000 Canadians are in hospital daily, she said, with more than 200 in critical care.

Click to play video 'Feds making little headway on improving long-term care homes'

Feds making little headway on improving long-term care homes

Feds making little headway on improving long-term care homes

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research.

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At a press conference in Ottawa, he also shed some light on who might be first in line to receive an immunization once a product is proven to be effective and safe.

Trudeau said the “reasonable expectation” is that vaccines could arrive sometime in the new year, but initially there will be smaller amounts available and the shots would be going to priority groups first.

“I think of our most vulnerable or our front-line workers, and we have experts busy evaluating exactly how and where and in which way to distribute these vaccines,” he said.

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Quebec, the province hardest hit by the virus, added 905 cases on Friday, along with 12 deaths — four of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

Officials warned Friday that Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches residents must abide by public health directives aimed at stemming the tide of COVID-19 in order to keep the health-care network intact.

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Read more:
Quebec City will lose health-care services if people don’t respect COVID-19 rules: Guilbault

“If we keep on the same track as we currently are, we are going straight into a wall,” said Quebec’s Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault. “The health-care system will not be able to take care of you anymore in some cases.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: New recommendations aimed at saving lives in Ontario long-term care homes'

Coronavirus: New recommendations aimed at saving lives in Ontario long-term care homes

Coronavirus: New recommendations aimed at saving lives in Ontario long-term care homes

Ontario posted another 826 coronavirus cases and nine fatalities attributed to the virus. An independent commission on long-term care released a report with recommendations on how to assist Ontario facilities in the second wave of the virus.

Read more:
Ontario long-term care commission provides government recommendations for 2nd wave in homes

Several provinces hit new grim milestones in the pandemic on Friday. Alberta saw its death toll reach 300, while the number of active cases in Saskatchewan hit a new high of 511.

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B.C., which is heading to the polls on Saturday, topped 2,000 active virus cases for the first time on Friday with the addition of 223 cases.

In Manitoba, 163 new cases were announced, along with the death of a man in his 80s who was a resident at a Winnipeg long-term care home that is suffering an outbreak.

Read more:
World has broken records for daily coronavirus cases several times this week alone

Throughout Atlantic Canada, just two more cases of the virus were diagnosed — both in New Brunswick.

The Northwest Territories also announced a new coronavirus patient, who officials said was a Yellowknife resident who works at the Gahcho Kue diamond mine. Health officials in Yukon announced three new cases on Friday, located in Watson Lake near the boundary with B.C.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: WHO says world is at a ‘critical juncture’ amid pandemic, some countries on a ‘dangerous track’'

Coronavirus: WHO says world is at a ‘critical juncture’ amid pandemic, some countries on a ‘dangerous track’

Coronavirus: WHO says world is at a ‘critical juncture’ amid pandemic, some countries on a ‘dangerous track’

With some record daily case counts around the world this week, the World Health Organization warned that we are at a “critical juncture” in the pandemic.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference Friday that some countries are on a “dangerous track.”

According to Johns Hopkins University, which is tallying known cases and deaths around the world, more than 42 million people have been diagnosed, and 1.1 million have died due to COVID-19 as of Friday.

—With files from Kalina Laframboise and Global News reporters across Canada

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada and its manufacturing sector face harm if PPE documents are released, says industry group –



Releasing confidential documents detailing the federal government’s business deals with suppliers of personal protective equipment and testing devices could hurt Canadian manufacturers and sully Canada’s global business reputation, a major industry association says.

Dennis Darby is president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a 150-year-old organization that represents some 2,500 businesses. He has written to the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP asking them to push back against a Conservative motion requesting those documents.

“We urge you to resist calls for disclosing any proprietary and confidential business information shared in private with the government of Canada and we commit ourselves to working with you to ensure that this does not happen,” Darby wrote.

The letter refers to Conservative MP Michelle Rempel-Garner’s motion calling on the federal government to release “all memoranda, emails, documents, notes and other records” detailing federal government’s purchasing of all testing-related equipment, from swabs to devices, and all personal protective equipment.

The motion also calls for detailed information about vaccines and asks the federal government’s Vaccine Task Force for information about its contacts with the federal government and its vaccine distribution and monitoring strategy.

“If these disclosures are too broad, it will negatively impact business operations for manufacturers in Canada and around the globe,” Darby wrote. “Furthermore, we worry that the reputations of many manufacturers, who stepped up to produce and sell personal protective equipment (PPE), testing devices, or other goods, will be unfairly tarnished.”

Darby said that the expense involved in retooling factories to produce masks, face shields, gowns and other items increased the cost of those products, even though the manufacturers sold them to the government at cost.

“Without doubt, those sudden ramp-up costs are significantly higher than a manufacturer who had been producing those same products for years,” Darby said in the letter. “We do not think their intentions should be called into question.”

The motion will go to a vote on Monday. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez’s office confirmed Thursday it won’t be considered a confidence vote — meaning it won’t trigger a general election if it passes.

The parties are debating how much time the government should have to gather the relevant documents after the Liberals said the motion’s 15-day timeline was unrealistic.

Negotiations ongoing

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, made a similar plea on Twitter this week, saying that the Conservative motion is threatening the “biggest industrial mobilization of Canadian industry in its history.” 

Volpe said that if manufacturers find their work being politicized, the companies that dropped everything to be a part of the effort to make PPE could abandon the work and tell the federal government to shop for PPE in China.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics Thursday that the federal government is in the middle of negotiating contracts and disclosing sensitive business information could threaten those deals.

“If we go ahead and release information, that will undermine our supplier relationships,” she told guest host David Cochrane. “I am very concerned with releasing documents, vaccine contracts, PPE contracts … because we will undermine those relationships.” 

The co-chairs of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force also expressed their concern in a letter sent Thursday to the leaders of all five federal political parties.

Joanne Langley and Mark Lievonen said that in order to provide advice to cabinet, they have entered into non-disclosure agreements with companies from Canada and around the world.

The task force has offered MPs from all parties a briefing, providing those MPs are also “subject to the same confidentiality arrangements” that bind the task force.

“Without this guarantee of commercial confidentiality, it would not have been possible for us to meaningfully engage with these firms nor to obtain the data needed to make evidence-based, informed recommendations,” the letter from the task force co-chairs said. 

It’s not clear what the final motion will look like come Monday; as it stands now, it includes a provision that appears to allow for some information to be withheld.

The motion says the documents can be “vetted for matters of personal privacy information and national security … the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations between the Government of Canada and a third party.” 

That vetting, the motion says, should be done by the law clerk and parliamentary counsel within seven days of delivery of the documents.

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